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Ipswich manager eyes swoop for Wigan boss

Ipswich Town manager Paul Cook eyes a swoop for current interim Wigan Athletic boss Leam Richardson once the season is over.

Richardson, an ex-Blackburn, Bolton, Notts County, Blackpool and Accrington player, has held coaching roles previously at Accrington Stanley, Chesterfield and Portsmouth.

Now he’s a caretaker, interim manager of the Latics who have just been taken over by a group, headed by Bahrain businessman Tamal Mubarak Al-Hammad.

Whilst Cook stated that Gary Roberts has the desire to go far as a coach a few weeks back, he has hinted that he could be reunited with trusted assistant Leam Richardson in the summer.

Richardson was Cook’s assistant at Chesterfield, Portsmouth and Wigan over a seven-year period, though stayed on at Wigan to become their manager and is currently trying to keep them in the third tier of football, sitting 22nd in the League One table and a point from safety.

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Asked if there would be any further additions to his staff, the Blues boss said: “Watch this space. As I said to Marcus (Evans), let’s get in.

“Leam Richardson’s been my assistant manager at every club.

“But, what I did feel alongside speaking with Leam, the reality of revisiting that situation when Wigan are in a relegation fight, when we both have a massive affinity to Wigan Athletic Football Club, is that I didn’t think that would be correct and proper enough to visit that situation now. So maybe we might revisit that situation at a later date.

“But going forward, I want everybody to feel that they’re going to get the correct opportunity to be part of the future success for the club.”

He added: “To be successful as a manager you need good support staff and people around you.

“Football clubs should be the happiest places in the world, we’re privileged to be in the jobs that we are, and while managers certainly take the brunt of it in terms of criticisms and being sacked, there are so many people behind them, that can support them and help towards success.

“I’ve been very lucky, at all my clubs, that my support staff has been very strong. Going forward at Ipswich I’m going to need all that help from everyone here. And together we might achieve something.”

“I know it will be tough for Leam,” said Cook, looking ahead to a meeting between the two sides in March.

“As you can imagine we know each other inside out, we worked with each other for that long.

“My only message to Wigan fans is how pleased I am for them and how proud I am of them with how they conducted themselves around what went on.

“The change of ownership there now is imminent, which is absolutely fantastic. I’m so pleased, I’m so delighted, especially for Leam. I know how tough he’s had it.

“He’s seen 22/23 players leave the club, he’s see his manager leave, the first team coach leave, his goalkeeper coach, the medical people… They’ve worked with nothing this year and they’ve conducted themselves so, so well.

“It will be a really difficult day for me, if I’m being truthful. I think the Wigan Athletic fans know how close to my heart they and the club is.

“But come Saturday we want to win desperately, and I know Leam will want to beat me and Ipswich Town desperately too. That’s how we are built as people.

“Certainly the respect will be there from both dug outs.”

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Asked how good a coach Richardson is, Cook said: “Rubbish! I carried him for nine years! He’s got nothing! He’s absolutely bluffed a living!

“No… Leam’s a great character. He’s a strong-minded person, has got a very, very solid background, he’s been a footballer himself and has been absolute rock for me over the time we’ve been together.

“When you’ve been successful as a manager and people look back at what you’ve done they don’t realise the bad days we’ve had. We’ve had loads of them me and Leam, we’ve had absolutely on-the-floor days where you need to be there for each other. You find out so much about each other. That’s so important in football.

“Me and Leam are as solid as they come. There will be no gaps between us in any shape or form. Leam’s been absolutely pivotal to my past success.

“But it’s all in the past. The most important day is tomorrow. As people around the club here will realise, I wake up every day wanting to be better. That’s something I demand at my club.”

He continued: “I don’t want to discuss the Wigan stuff too much if I’m truthful because it does hurt me.

“We were in a position where I felt we would actually challenge for the play-offs this year going towards the Premier League. The side, the atmosphere, the whole club was bouncing. We were in a great place.

“Those great days are in your memory now. That’s how football is. Football is about memories and it’s about the future. The most important thing is making future memories and that’s what I’m here to do now.”

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He added: “They started me off as a player too. That’s why Wigan is such a special club to me. For anyone to play for a club and also manage that club is special. I had great days as a manager at Wigan, winning leagues and having cup runs. It was amazing.

“There’s staff I had working for me who I haven’t mentioned. If you know me, you’ll know how close I am with certain people: Anthony Barry, Nick Colgan, Nick Meace, Andy Procter, Ian Craney.

“Some of those lads who I worked with will be in that dugout against me on Saturday and it will really be tough for me.

“I have great memories of all my clubs and Wigan would be right up there with the best.”

Richardson hasn’t ruled out the idea of following Cook to Suffolk in the future, saying: “I’m absolutely made up for him,” Richardson told BBC Radio Manchester.

“I’m maybe a little bit biased because I’ve worked with him for so long but I think he’s one of the best managers out there. How he hasn’t kicked on into the Championship/Premier League before now is anybody’s guess.

“But he joins an absolutely massive club in Ipswich with a fantastic owner who has been doing it for a long time and they’re craving success.

“For Paul, joining there, I have no doubt Ipswich Town will get success.”

When asked directly whether he would consider joining Cook at Ipswich, considering the club does not have an assistant manager following Stuart Taylor’s exit, Richardson said: “He’s never stopped being on the phone and is very conscious of the situation here.

“He’s always there for advice or how own thoughts on things. That hasn’t changed and everybody has seen my commitment to Wigan at the minute. I think there’s a job to be.

“I don’t think anybody can question anybody’s integrity. So we will see what happens.”

The game between Ipswich and Wigan was played out last Saturday, with a 0-0 scoreline to earn a point for both sides.

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